The RV repair in Fort Stockton kills the morning, but we still arrive at the hotel in Lajitas before dark. We check into our rooms, then hit the Old Trading Post, looking for a few last minute supplies for the morning. The Mayor of Lajitas greets us from his pen and demands tribute, so my fellow management trainee gives him a beer. The two ladies from Corporate exit the store with snacks and bottles of wine, and reminds us we are expected to play the “What if?” game later in their room. They turn and walk away before we can respond because we have no choice. The goat Mayor of Lajitas demands more tribute.
Dinner is at the only restaurant just across the parking lot. The two Corporate dudes hit the sack early, but we are stuck ‘training’ with ladies from Corporate. We play a training game called the “What if?” game, and you play this way – the Corporate ladies take turns giving each of us a business related-scenario and we get to say how we’d handle it. I already know, via the grapevine back at work, how these ladies really feel about me. The Director of Operations dude made it clear to me that they didn’t like me very much, and that I needed to get these ladies on my side by the end of training, or I’d be going back to my old job. So I bit my tongue and had been trying pretty hard, but as the game progressed and the wine bottle emptied, the gleeful cackles of the Corporate ladies made it clear I still had some work to do.
Their questions grew bolder and more pointed as the night progressed. The Corporate ladies had long suspected that my success with cost control in-store had to be due to cost/number manipulations or something else equally devious. So at some point, their “What if?” questions turned to entirely to the area of cost control. “So…what if you accidentally broke several bottle of liquor, and you knew that having a high liquor cost would get you in trouble, would you buy replacement bottles of liquor with your own money to avoid getting in trouble?” she asked with a drunken smirk. The question sounded like it might be something allowable, because you’re just replacing the bottle that got broken. But the correct answer is “no”. It’s deceptive, and it’s illegal (TABC regulates all alcohol purchases, and you don’t want to be caught bringing in non-invoiced alcohol). It’s wrong either way. It’s a good question normally, but it’s a ‘gotcha’ question, because if I was okay doing that, then maybe I’m okay with buying outside liquor just so it looks like I have an amazing liquor cost. One of the Corporate ladies takes a swig from the wine bottle as they wait for my “yes” answer, but instead I say “No, of course not.” The Corporate lady does a spit-take of red wine as she rushes to proclaim, “Bullshit! You’re a fucking a liar!” The room goes deadly quiet as my fellow trainee’s and I awkwardly look at each other. This particular moment has turned into a real “What if?” situation – “What if a member of Corporate has had too much to drink…”- so her Corporate lady buddy speaks up and suggests that maybe we should all call it a night.